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Weekend fires strike Lincoln County jail, DA’s office

Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:12 pm

01-08-14 Lincoln County DA Fire

Authorities were called to the scene of a fire Saturday night at the district attorney general’s office just off the square in Fayetteville. (Photo by Lucy Williams, Elk Valley Times)

Two unrelated fires impacted law enforcement authorities in Fayetteville over the weekend, the first coming at the Lincoln County Jail where 130 inmates had to be evacuated Friday night and the second coming Saturday evening at District Attorney General Robert Carter’s Fayetteville office.

The jail fire was caused by an inmate in one of the lockdown cells, said Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder, explaining that the inmate had a lighter and apparently set fire to tissue he placed under his mattress. Authorities believe that the lighter was smuggled into the jail by another inmate. The prisoner charged in connection with the fire is Younger Toon, 47, of Fayetteville, who was being held on meth charges. Monday Toon was charged with one count of aggravated arson and one count of attempted murder in connection with the fire.

One officer, Sgt. Will Fountain, who charged into the Toon’s cell to pull the inmate to safety, was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. He was admitted to Lincoln Medical Center early Saturday morning, treated and then released Sunday.

“Sgt. Fountain and the entire shift did an outstanding job saving lives,” said Blackwelder Monday, commending, in particular, Lindsey Pigg, Jessica Feygo, Zek George, and Jeremy Spray in addition to Fountain. “Had they not re-acted the way they did, there probably would have been lives lost.”

Saturday night’s fire at the district attorney’s office on East Market Street in Fayetteville resulted from an electrical issue in the basement of the building, according to preliminary findings, said Fayetteville Fire Chief Danny Travis, whose men fought both blazes, quickly getting them under control before more extensive damage was done.

“The firemen’s quick response and the job they did was excellent,” said Carter on Sunday. “I’m confident had they not responded as they did that the building would have quickly become engulfed and possibly been a total loss … I can’t thank them enough.”

The district attorney general also thanked the sheriff’s department whose initial crew secured the building, as well as Lee McAlister, the owner of the building, and Adam Eubanks, an investigator with the Fayetteville Police Department who called the fire in to dispatchers. Eubanks was attending a visitation at Higgins Funeral Home just up the street.

Both facilities are continuing to be impacted by the fires and perhaps more predominately by the smoke damage incurred as a result of the blazes.

The sheriff’s department sent 19 inmates to Marshall County from the jail to clear cellblocks there. Day-to-day operations have been impacted as initially three cellblocks were unable to be occupied, but two of those, as of Monday, have been restored.

—From Elk Valley Times reports

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